Smart career planning for long-term success

Career planning

Planning is a basic, yet key principle used by successful business people. Plans formulated on a regular basis to control direction, make the best use of resources and measure progress or results.

To start devising your career plan, think of the following questions:

  • What are my long-term career objectives?
  • What will I want to get out of my job in the next five years or so?
  • Do I need to pursue further study? If so, what for?
  • What are my individual priorities?

These priorities and objectives may change over time and you need to check up from time to time to make sure you are on track.

Be realistic: Adhere to achievable goals

To formulate your career plan, firstly you must set your long-term goals in terms of concrete items. For example -” In ten years time I want to be the financial controller of a large commercial organisation”. To arrive at this objective, you must consider personal and professional aspirations. Aim high with whatever you set out to achieve, but adhere to realistic goals that are achievable.

You may wonder if it’s too difficult for us to anticipate what we can achieve in the long run. Don’t be afraid to set long-term goals. The goals can be altered once your aspirations or values change. Indeed, it is quite likely this will be the case.

Establish steps to reach your goals

Once your long-term goals are in place, it is important to establish the steps you will need to take to reach those longer-term objectives. Again, these steps may need alteration where appropriate, but will be based on such considerations as academic qualifications, professional membership, technical experience and personal development.

Nurture the right attitude

With firm goals in place, you must obtain the right attitude. Enthusiasm is the catalyst to success. It makes your personal and professional experiences more enjoyable and satisfying. Remember, nothing great was ever accomplished without enthusiasm!

Check your achievements intermittently

Career planning or goal setting will only achieve its purpose if you adhere to the principals of measuring your progress and following the path you have planned. Write down your goals, check your achievements and make the necessary alterations when required.

Realize your career plan

Having the plan in place is just the start. Now comes the hard work! Bear in mind you have a number of resources available to you if you just look for them…

(a)    Your personal and business networks

Your personal and business networks are your real asset. Many opportunities become available through referrals and “word of mouth” – so, if you are able, spread the word amongst close friends as to what sort of role you are looking for.

Your prospective employer is more than happy to take a reference from an enthusiastic previous employer. Always keep a pool of referees. You should ask if your referees agree to sharing their contact details with prospective employers, if they do, you may discuss the prospect with them before they get the call.

(b)   Enlist support of Recruitment Consultants

Recruitment Consultants are there to guide and assist you. The better your recruitment consultants understand your career objectives, the more likely they are to be able to help you achieve them.

Beware the communication between you and your consultant. If you don’t feel they have recommended the jobs you want, speak out straightaway. You may also change your mind about certain things from time to time as well as perhaps the salary you want or maybe the location. It is important for you to keep the communication going so that these changes can be activated promptly on your behalf.

(c)    Keep abreast of changing market conditions

Things keep evolving in the job market. For instance, the software programme that was in great demand when you were last on the market two years ago may no longer be so popular today! Stay alert to changing trends, keep an eye on the press so you can keep track of salary changes, job description changes and so on.

(d)   Get ready to promote yourself

It is quite normal to feel uncomfortable about selling yourself, but it is a necessary evil when you are looking for a job. There are different ways to impress interviewers other than by your resume, and at the interview so it is important you make the most of them both. Your resume is a basic sales document and you should treat it as such when you compile it. Would you ‘buy’ this person? Similarly, in an interview, only you can highlight and bring out all your achievements – be proactive to let the interviewers know your “unique features” instead of waiting them to discover your merits themselves.

This article was originally published on Hays.

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